I have been at several fora where women become vulnerable with each other and let out what is going on in their private lives and I have noticed a common thread in the discussions.
Invariably, the women blame themselves for the actions of their husbands and children. They challenge their self worth as wives and mothers and subject themselves to sleepless nights wherein they ask themselves whether their sacrifices have been worth it, whether their priorities are in the right place and what they did to deserve the actions of their loved ones in spite of all the love shown them.
I acknowledge that there is a period of shame, of inadequacy, of embarrassment where one finds themselves with the bitter consequences borne out of the choices of one’s loved ones in-spite of everything one has done.
It’s a lonely walk at times especially in the religious circles where you are blamed for falling short of being that virtuous woman who keeps kith and kin on the straight and narrow.
Where people look at your children and blame you for their choices, look at your husband and blame you for who he is , blame you for the failed marriage, for your inability to keep a man, to bear a child, to bring up godly children, without understanding the many prayers you have prayed, the tears you have shed and the shame you feel.
I understand these feeling because I have been there.
I have been at a place where I thought I was somewhat responsible, either directly or indirectly for my husband’s actions. I excused his bad behavior because I thought I wasn’t good enough as a lover, wife and companion. I thought things would be different if only I was slimmer, more sexually adventurous, given to more prayers for him, attending to his every whim and loving him a bit more.
I also have been there as a Mother, where I told myself that the actions or choices of my children were because I wasn’t steadfast as a prayer warrior, that I didn’t quote psalms over their heads every night, fast and pray at particular times, was not there for them in all areas of their lives.
The feeling of shame and inadequacy was worse with my children because I saw them as direct extensions of me and whilst their father’s choices could be excusable, theirs were not. As mothers, we tend to want to micro mange our children, forgetting we are just guardians and that they have their individual paths to walk.
My wake up call started with a statement my daughter made one day when I was driving her home from school. She had been telling me about the escapades of her school mates and after we laughed about it I said I trust my child sha you have been properly brought up and wouldn’t dare do that. Her response shocked me for she said “Mummy one can be properly brought up and still choose to do other than they’ve been taught.”
My epiphany came when I realized, sometime later, that God has given Man the gift of choice. Is it not surprising that although God knows what we will do beforehand, advises and warns us against certain actions, He never forces us against our will. God, the perfect father had two disobedient children in Adam and Eve.
The knowledge of choices and the power we each have to do good or evil saved and delivered me from the feelings of shame and guilt.
So, back to those feelings: they are normal but we should not dwell too long on them especially when we have done all we know to do and some more. It is normal as women to feel that our children and husbands choices are a reflection of how good or bad a wife or mother we are.
However, we will do ourselves a lot of good when we stop blaming ourselves for the choices our loved ones willfully make. We may have directly or indirectly contributed to their decisions but the choice remains theirs .
The truth is some of us must go through harrowing experiences till we come to ourselves and though it may take a while and a toll on all the people involved, the best we can do
, is to be like God was to Adam and Eve. He didn’t intervene in their choices but allowed them to face the consequences of their actions whilst supporting and caring for them in their troubles. Neither did he overtly blame himself for putting them in the Garden of Eden or for planting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
It reminds me of a story I read where the mother of a drug addict who after several interventions both at home and medical facilities, came to the position for her mental health that she wasn’t her child’s saviour and that his choices were his and only his to make.
We will all make mistakes, the prayer is that those mistakes will not have long lasting consequences. It is a lie that some of us have it all together, we all have skeletons in our cupboards.
So, today cut your self some slack, remember we all have the power to make choices for ourselves, do your best and leave the rest to God.